Lara

When I was 20 and working at a grocery store, my Uncle John stopped by. It was my lunch break, so we sat outside on the curb and shared a slice of cake. We chatted aimlessly, and then he left. I never saw him again.

Two months later, he left home in the middle of the night and took his own life with a gun that none of us knew he had.

I adored him; we shared a love of technology, and he was teaching me to code. We both loved the outdoors and animals. We made pancakes at my grandparent’s house and played video games. He was my father’s older brother. I knew things hadn’t gone well for him at times, but I always admired how he pulled through. Until he didn’t.

I blamed myself for over a decade, thinking there was something I could have done or a way I could have helped. He never got to meet my children, who would have loved him. Every day I miss him. His photo is on my mantle, and I think of him constantly. I honor him by living my life as best I can and trying to advocate for mental health reforms.

Pastor Melody Geddis McFadden

My niece Sandy, whom I helped raise under my own umbrella, went to the beach. Isn’t the sun always supposed to be shining at the beach? She and her cousins wanted to watch the motorcycle parades. They were young, beautiful and, they figured, invincible. A little bit of rain and the thunder surrounding one fight on the beach was not supposed to quickly and without warning turn into a devastating tsunami. Lightning strike! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Sandy PaTrice Geddis Barnwell was running for cover, but the lightning struck her in the forehead. The forecast was the darkest that I ever received when the coroner informed me that the storm had casualties that and my Lovely, my sister’s ONLY child, was not coming home—ever again. No one expected lightning on the beach. Four young people having fun in the sand and sun, partying with no cares, shot down. One young man shot five times and still struggling with the injuries. Two young men killed. My Sandy forever taken in senseless gun violence. The sun is still not shining on my sister.

Anonymous

My uncle Johnny suffered from depression, and his wife left him and took their children. In the hottest month of summer in Phoenix, he shut up his apartment, turned off the air conditioning, put a pillow over his head and took his own life. My father had to drive several hours to claim his brother’s ashes and clean out the apartment. We then drove across the country to deliver my uncle’s ashes to my grandmother.

My father still has the gun used. It is taken apart in the smallest pieces, in a gun safe my father never opens. He will never get rid of it for emotional reasons I will never understand. I am bipolar and have chosen never to own a gun because of what my Uncle Johnny did.

Vita M. Larkin

My cousin was murdered in 1988, during an armed robbery. He was a new father to a four-month-old son. He was more like a younger brother (rather than a nephew) to my father. The pain and trauma of his sudden death is one that our family carries, even 30-plus years later. Throughout my childhood, many family events were tinged with sadness because Joseph wasn’t there. It was and is heartbreaking to us. His death was senseless and preventable. It is in my work as a Moms Demand Action volunteer that I honor Joseph’s memory and the memories of all those who are taken from us too soon because of the epidemic that is gun violence.

Aída Díaz

I fell in love with Carlos as soon we started dating; his infectious smile and living spirit were too sweet to ignore. Carlos loved dancing salsa. He played the bass in a Cumbia band and was a union organizer for more than 10 years. I was blessed to receive and enjoy Carlos’ magical love for four beautiful years.

On July 25, 2019, at 2:30 a.m., Carlos, his father and mother were shot by his baby brother, who was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression. His brother also shot his previous partner, her coworker and a random guy on the train. He was found 12 hours later; only his mother and coworker survived.

I miss him so much. I’ve sobbed, cursed at the universe and felt guilt, anger and complete sadness that I could not have prevented this tragedy. Sometimes I wonder why my life was spared. Then I remember, that I am still here. Alive. Breathing. And that love never dies, it transforms. I promise to make him proud.

I love you until infinity and beyond, cosita.

Dae-Dae

My grandson Dae-Dae was killed May 24, 2020, by a 19 year old. Dae-Dae had a heart of gold. Even when he was going through a difficult time, you wouldn’t have known it because he still showed love toward everyone. Even if they wronged him, he showed forgiveness. He loved Katy Perry. He was a rapper. I’m going to miss him so much.

He was the character of the family, always making us laugh. He loved writing music, he loved his fried chicken and he loved his family. He was just a joyful person, and, most of all, Angel of the Lord.

William Vaughn Lewis (aka Alpine)

William Vaughn Lewis was born to Robert and Geneva Lewis on March 11, 1965. He had one child, Jahvann Raphael Lewis, who was also murdered, on September 8, 2019. He was and is very much loved by many people. William’s life was taken on August 22, 2020. He was murdered in front of his family home.

William was a hustler, always making money to support me and his family. This man was the love of my life. He was a good provider, a loyal friend, and my heart and soul. I will never be the same.

I love you, William. As of today, August 26, 2020, there have been no witnesses that have come forward. The San Antonio police department have not one lead. We don’t have any idea why someone would take William Vaughn Lewis from his family and my life.

William, you can finally rest. I know you were so tired. Fly with the angels, and hang out with your son, Jahvann, your brothers, Robert and Jerry, and, of course, your loving father, Robert Senior. We all love you and will miss you deeply.

Steffani Bailey

My boyfriend was murdered on December 7, 2006, by an angry man with a gun. I received a call from my boyfriend’s son that his dad was dead. I thought I had heard him incorrectly, as he was hysterical and hard to understand. After I realized what he was saying, I don’t remember much of the rest of that night. My future and dreams of sharing the rest of my life with this amazing man were gone. I guess I am one of the lucky ones in that his murderer was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 14 years. After 11 years in prison, he will be released this December. Nate— I will never forget you and will try to continue to make you proud. You were one of kind. Sweet dreams, baby.

Dr. Lorenzo Neal

In the summer of 1980, when I was 5, my 25-year-old mother, Sharon Neal, was killed in an act of domestic violence that involved a gun in my hometown of Monroe, Louisiana. She left behind her four young boys (my brothers — Kevin, Emanuel and Joshua — and me) to be raised by her parents. Kevin would go on to join the U.S. Navy, marry and have a son of his own, Kevin Jr., lovingly known as “Make Mae.” Lil Kevin had a great big smile and an even bigger personality. He was in the JROTC at his school and worked part time. On October 19, 2016, at the age of 18 and in his senior year of high school, Kevin was taken from us in a senseless act of gun violence in Newport News, Virginia. They both live in my heart, and I will work to keep their memories alive.

Tanya R

My grandfather was a reserved man; quiet, usually in the background. I didn’t know him well; I don’t have many memories of him. Until Christmas Day, 1985.

I was 9. It wasn’t a banner year for me, as my father had suffered a series of heart attacks and would never leave the hospital, but we had traveled to see the grandparents anyway. I got a set of jacks in my stocking, and I was sitting on the floor playing with them after we’d opened all the presents. My six-foot tall Grandpa sat down, long legs sprawled out, and played with me. It’s seared in my memory, because now I know it was his way of saying goodbye. The next morning, my grandmother wandered the house, wondering where Grandpa was, asking everyone if they’d seen him or if he’d said anything about going anywhere. And then she found him, and I remember the screams and the terror. He’d taken the rifle in the garage, and he’d taken his own life. Depression, alcohol, fear – they changed my grandfather. But the gun – that’s what took his life.